There’s only two words that properly describe electronic nu-pop artist Yöri: pure magic. Like the sonic lovechild between a 90’s-era Bjork and Canada’s creep-pop export Grimes, the California artist’s music is both ancient and futuristic in sound, a sonic fusion of two worlds that seem to collide and shatter in the airwaves. Yori’s voice is mystic and otherworldly, primal and raw as she chants and intones alongside the melodies; set against a landscape of swirling electronics and teetering beats, the artist sounds as if a fairy were digitally converted and then got lost in the binary.
To help spread the magic, the indie Icelandic artist has teamed up with Ladygunn today on the exclusive premiere of her gorgeously haunting new single, “Surrounded,” which, just for the record, will make you feel exactly the way it sounds. Take a listen, and also check out our interview with the artist, below.
What inspires you musically?
How it feels to be so emboldened by someone you love so much that it’s almost terrifying.
Which artists do you most look up to or which artists have influenced you?
When it comes to my voice, I just always sang the only way I can sing, and that’s it. I’ve never really compared myself to other people because I know I just can’t sing like other people. Although I admire a great deal of singers and how larger than life they are – like Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Chavele Vargas – but I can’t find anything in common with them. From what I’ve experienced, everything from just the sound of my voice to just my life in general – there’s no way I could compare myself to someone like Maria Callas or Billie Holiday or again, Beyonce. They’re just too distant for me.
I borrow a lot from my favorites: Elizabeth Frasier, The Cure, Slow Magic, Nicki Minaj, Destinys Child, Mariah Carey, Lauren Hill, Morphine, Slint, A Tribe Called Quest, a lot of West Coast 90’s hip hop, and a ton of bubble gum pop because it makes me dance.
Tell me about your songwriting process.
As much as I like simple things, I like complex things as well. I breathe pop music, which to me can also be classified as folk music because it’s the music of the people, a culture. For me, you have to have both ends of the spectrum. When I have songs inside of me the only way to get them out is to put me in danger, but you can only do that for so long until you explode. A part of it is just about entering the unknown and not being stagnated. I think of music as this unknown thing that needs exploring.
For me, singing is all just instinct and pure intuition. I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do. I wanted to be really physical with my voice, just sing and sing and sing. I just let whatever came out come out and then afterwards I put on my librarian hat and kind of analyzed things, rearranging them and giving them meaning. For me, the music has to have a little speck of intrigue or the unknown. Music is the exact opposite of pure logic (for me), which is why it’s so brilliant. I am extremely emotionally driven.
How would you describe your sound or art to someone who has not listened before?
Ephemeral entities whispering in your ear while a glacier crumbles between your feet, a blooming garden at twilight, or 60 minutes on acid. Very sensual and potent.
What is the new song about?
It was my first “real” love song so I wanted to make it as dramatic as possible, hence the strings swelling in right as the beat drops and the cascading layered harmonies. It’s dedicated to the biggest love of my life, and when I recorded it I literally thought to myself: “Ok, think about how much you love this person, and sing what comes out.” So I did that and went with it. It’s straight from the heart and that’s exactly what I’m about.
Visuals seem very important to you, musically. Tell me about your aesthetic and style.
The packaging that you send away your finished product in is very important and it translates the visual element that you want to be carried with your song or album. I do photographs in order for people to understand my music better. Some people’s eyes are more evolved than their ears, and if they see a certain emotion or look on a cover or shoot, they’ll understand the product better.
What do you see for yourself throughout the rest of 2014?
Working harder than ever and celebrating. Like Aziz Ansari once said in Parks and Recreation: “Sometimes you gotta work a little, so you can ball a lot.”
Do you have plans to release another EP or an album soon?
“Surrounded” will come with a b-side, “Heart of Armour,” which will be released separately with its own artwork. For now I will only release singles, until I feel like a compilation is overdue.